When you meet someone new, at some point in the conversation they will ask you what you do for a living. My reply is “I’m a math teacher.” Now, it’s a pretty simple reply, but as I’m sure you can imagine, it gets a whole range of reactions - and not many of them are particularly positive. About 25% of the time, this new person says something like “Awesome! I love math!” or “Cool, my mom was a math teacher too!” About 50% of the time, I get something like “Um, well… hooray for you? I was never any good at math.” The remaining 25% are the people who right then and there pretty much decide we can’t be friends, and say something like “Ewww. Really? Why??” or launch into a lengthy explanation of how every math teacher they ever had was horrible.
Most people don’t have a good relationship with math. They don’t see it as interesting, or fun, or as something that could possibly bring them joy. Instead, in many cases, anything beyond day-to-day math is perceived as complicated, boring, and generally not useful unless you have a job where you need it. Most people see math this way due to their lousy experiences with math in school - the math they were taught was disconnected, not obviously relevant, unclear, even joyless. Math, the way many of us learned it, felt like five or six different 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzles, all jumbled in one box together, where you not only had to figure out which pieces went to which puzzle, but also how those pieces then fit the puzzle they were a part of. How miserable! Trust me, I have had those same feelings about math. I understand. The thing that’s different for me is that (in spite of, or maybe as a result of those things) I became a math teacher!
Long story short - this is one reason why we built exSTEMsions. When most people think of math, their first thoughts go to what they hate about it, like “yuck, algebra” or “yuck, geometry”. But me, I love math. I love math so much that I love helping other people find joy in it like I do! And before you think “of course you love math”, you should know it isn’t something I always loved, but rather grew into, and is now a core component of my life, my profession, and my worldview. Once I stopped being uncomfortable with math, I learned that it sits within everything that I do, and makes it all the more interesting. I love math because I know that it’s more than a collection of numbers and letters. Math is puzzles. Math is games. Math is construction, and cooking, and creating. Now I have the skills to approach all kinds of things, like science, and art, and so many other aspects to life, with curiosity and openness.
And I don’t know ALL the math. But I know enough, and I’ve built enough problem-solving and critical thinking skills as a result of work I’ve done with the math I do have, that I actually believe there isn’t anything I can’t figure out. And that’s kind of amazing, and it’s exactly what we want for you, and for your kids. We want you to make friends with math, and learn that it’s not like that kid in school who was way too cool to talk to you (or me, or anyone…); math is way more personable and likable than you’d imagine. Yes, you can actually like doing math, where you find yourself really wanting to go back to a problem and continue thinking about it! We want to challenge you with amazing puzzles and problems that teach math, critical thinking and problem-solving all in a way that allow you to access those tools the next time you need them, in whatever situation you find yourself in. We want you to be confident in math, and enjoy what you’re confident in. We want you to know that you don’t have to know it all - you just have to believe that you can always figure it out… with gusto! Because you can. And that’s what makes exSTEMsions unique. Our math is not a pile of puzzle pieces all from different jigsaw puzzles. Our math is like a quilt of little mini-puzzles - every one you conquer just makes the final product that much better, and that much more interesting, and beautiful.
We believe in math. We believe in learning. And most of all, we believe in you, and in your kids. Let’s all make friends with math. There is so much to be gained - and nothing to lose!
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